You may have noticed that the new food bit in what they call the Qube area of the metro centre (yellow mall to me and you) has been steadily opening a stream of new restaurants over the past months, from recognisable chains to some I’d never even heard of. Before it’s recent opening I have to admit MOD Pizza was one of the ones I was unfamiliar with.
As I do before every visit to a new restaurant the first thing I did was take a look at their website and menu. It was very refreshing to find a pizza place that doesn’t simply shove all their meal deals and offers in your face from the homepage and throughout. They had personality, which showed through their alternative pizza names (no ‘Hawaiian, Chicken supreme or four cheese pizza in sight!), and through their ‘We are MOD’ section you can gain a basic understanding of their history, a history which goes a lot deeper than most – mainly because they actually have one worth shouting about.
MOD Pizza Metrocentre
We got there and straight away were welcomed in by the host at the entrance, and guided to the queue for the counter. Staff were on hand to explain how it works – you can either choose one of the pre-created pizzas, the ones I’d seen online with the quirky names, or you can go for the create your own option. I went for the ‘Mad Dog’, I’d had that decision made since my first visit to their website. It wasn’t until we were literally about to order that Kieran realised the ‘create your own’ option meant unlimited toppings at no extra charge. That was him sold.
When creating your own pizza you choose from a mini (6inch), the standard MOD (11inch), or the mega double crust. Then you choose which sauce base to have, from the SEVEN they have on offer. Whichever you go for – red sauce, white sauce, BBQ sauce, pesto, garlic rub, olive oil or plain, if your server is anything like ours it will be swirled on like a work of art right up to the edges, before your chosen cheese is generously sprinkled across too. One of my pet hates at any food place is when they’re stingy on the filling or toppings, and I’m pleased to report that was definitely not the case here.
Moving along the counter to the meat, herbs, veg and extra toppings, again a full selection and you can have as many as you like. The best bit is it doesn’t matter how many you have, the price stays the same. $4.47 for mini, £7.47 for MOD, and £10.47 for mega. BARGAIN. It’s basically like pizza pick n mix without worrying about the weight and in my book you can’t go wrong with that.
Even their top ten pre-created classics are made fresh in front of you, so I still had the option to customise or add any extras to my ‘Mad Dog’, again with no additional cost. The guy on topping duty was really friendly, a local lad I later found out was called Lee. Honestly a friendly face and bit of chat goes a long way in fast food places I think, especially after a full day at work or a long shopping trip!
Once created, both our pizzas were slid into the fire oven where they were transformed into crispy based, topping laden ready to eat pizzas in under five minutes. That’s what they promised and that’s what we got. There were a full range of drinks on offer, refillable soft drinks, beer and milkshakes. I wish I’d tried a milkshake actually but I was too hungry and needed a soft drink to wash it all down.
We sat ourselves at one of the tables next to the Revolution feature wall, and the MOD wall of fame. Each restaurant has one, and they’re all tailored to the location. Amongst all the fun photos of staff, customers and MOD artwork were images of the Tyne Bridge, the Angel of the North, the Sage, the Castle Keep and every other recognisable landmark from the region. It was a nice touch and made it very personal to the local area.
The pizza itself was really really good. When sinking your teeth into all the flavours and crispy base it’s hard to believe it was all done that quickly, but still kept the quality. I find when it comes to pizza there’s nothing worse than when the whole thing collapses. Picking up a hot slice only to see it flop straight over and all the good stuff sliding straight off is one of those epic fails that can really ruin a good pizza experience. Fear not, the crispy MOD pizza base is 100% the reason this doesn’t happen here, it held its own!
As we mopped up the last of our crusts and garlic dipping sauce, I was keen to speak to the staff to find out more about the company. The couple who founded ‘MOD Pizza’ are an American couple called Scott and Ally from Seattle, who in the past spent a long time living in London. When they moved back to America, they wanted to combine their love of street pizza with the MOD culture they had been so fascinated by in London, in an environment the whole family would enjoy. And so MOD Pizza was born. The American presence isn’t overly strong in the atmosphere of the place, it’s not cheesy (no pun intended) or over the top. They’ve managed to successfully combine their American roots with local influences and have created a cool, quirky pizza place.
Their involvement in the entire MOD empire was evident from both the staff speaking on them and the photos on the wall of fame. How many fast food places in this country can you think of that would actually fly staff over to America for full training, send supportive staff over for the opening few weeks, and keep every single member of staff motivated, even late night on a Tuesday after a full days graft? And how many chains do you know that take the time to get to know the local area and use it as part of their presence in our cities?
So that’s my in depth take on MOD Pizza. But why should you choose them over all the other choices on offer in a busy food court?
Firstly the value for money. With unlimited toppings, more sauce and cheese options than I knew existed, and refillable drinks all for the same price you get more than what you pay for.
Secondly the speed you get it. A fresh pizza in your hand in under 5 minutes is perfect if you need something quick before your film starts, or as fuel for a Christmas shopping trip. Or you can even get one to just take home.
Thirdly, and maybe even my favourite, their dedication to their people and the community. Some of their staff were employed from a local centre in the west end of Newcastle, people who had been struggling to get jobs and needed an opportunity. Not only this but their chosen charity to support is Children North East. A feel good extra you don’t always see from fast food places.